A Relaxing Weekend

Just a quick update. I am halfway through the first semester, and so far my students are all successful! It has been a very busy two months, but life is good.

Life is very good.

On Saturday, my wife and I went to a fantastic little place, The Bottle Room, a craft beer and wine bar. In addition to very nice food menu, they offer an astounding collection of craft beers from around the country as well as excellent imports. We both ordered warm sandwiches, but the real reason for the stop was the beverages. Tammy enjoyed a four wine sample flight, and I had sample flight of three single malt Scotches, with about 20ml poured for each.

From right to left, the Oban 14yr was the lightest. A lot of honey in the nose, with some grassy flavor with hints of citrus fruits. It was good, and I had been very curious about trying a bottle of it, but now I know that I won’t bother with it.

The Highland Park 12yr was very nice with smoke in the nose and the flavor. There was definite pear flavors and it was much less sweet than the Oban. it was good, and I would consider buying it.

The youngest of the flight, the Laphroaig 10yr was like being hit in the face with a bale of smoked peat wrapped with fresh seaweed. It had a powerful smokey flavor with a medicinal character (in the brewer-speak of a beer judge, it was “powerfully phenolic” and also a distinct saltiness. It was bold. It was really “in your face.” And I will buy that again, because that was incredible!

Sunday morning was a relaxing day. I decided to make Baked Egg with Feta and Spinach. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any feta cheese, but I did have some crumbled bleu cheese, so I subbed out the Greek feta for some American bleu.

And discovered that bleu is too pungent for this recipe. The flavor overwhelmed everything else, even only using two tablespoons (1 ounce/28g) for a batch of four eggs.

Oh, well. It was a learning experience. Not everything will always go perfectly, and that is okay. If you never try, you won’t learn and grow. As for the remaining eggs, we threw them out. In our world, if the food is not “worth the calories (or points)” then we simply won’t eat it. We eat well because we only eat food that is good enough to justify expending my food budget calories.

And the next two times we go to the Bottle Room (and we will go again) I am going to try the Scotch Top Flight (Glanmorangie 12 yr, Lavagulin 16 yr and Glenlivet 18 yr), and the Bourbon Flight (Buffalo Trace, Angel’s Envy and Booker’s.)

Question for everyone: Of the various liquors I mentioned, which have you tried, and which is your favorite? Let me know below.

Walnut-Pear Bleu Cheese Salad

Walnut-Pear Bleu Cheese Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 2

A double-handful of mixed greens
1/2 of a ripe pear, thinly sliced
1/2 of a cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon walnut pieces
1 tablespoon bleu cheese crumbles

  1. Place greens in a bowl.
  2. Add dressing, toss to coat.
  3. Divide lettuce and place on two plates
  4. Add equal amounts of pears, cucumbers, walnuts and bleu cheese to each.
  5. Note: You can make this vegan by either removing the bleu cheese completely, or replace it with something else savory. (Maybe wasabi-coated tofu crumbles? I haven’t tried it, but I think it would work.)

Nutritional data:
Calories:        131
Fat:                 9g
Sat fat:         1.9g
Chol:       12.5mg
Sodium: 154.1mg
Carbs:          8.4g
Fiber:           2.4g
Protein:        5.8g

Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 2

2 tablespoons white balsamic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Nutritional data:
Calories:        104
Fat:                 7g
Sat fat:            1g
Chol:            0mg
Sodium:   62.5mg
Carbs:        10.1g
Fiber:              0g
Protein:           0g

Yesterday’s Television Segments

Here is a link to Saturday’s cooking segments:

Emily Deem, Me and Doug Higgins
(What the heck is that smile I have on my face????)
Emily and Doug were great to work with. (That makes me sound far too important.) The reality is, they were very nice to me and enjoyed the food I made. They also made me feel welcome and comfortable.
It is really interesting to see how live television is made. There is so much more than you ever see, and many more people who are critical to the show than just the hosts.

A Reminder to Anyone Local

I will be cooking on Green Bay’s WLUK Fox11 tomorrow morning for their “Cooking with You” feature. The segments will air at approximately 7:50 and 8:50am.

Tomorrow, I will be making grilled French Bread pizzas and Grilled Jalapeno Poppers. (The four varieties of pizza will be Cheesy Garlic, Pepperoni, Mushroom&Olive, and Reuben.)

For the many of you who do not live local to me, I will post links here so you can watch me at your leisure.

Cornbread (and Homemade BBQ Sauce)

Cornbread and Homemade BBQ Sauce (served with grilled chicken thighs and grilled carrots)
Make sure you read to the bottom and answer the simple question.

Serve 9

1 cup whole kernel corn (either canned, frozen–but thawed before using–or fresh cooked on the cob)
1 egg
3/4 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons oil (I used olive)
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons Splenda (or you can use sugar or another low-cal sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare a 9″ square baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Add corn, egg, milk and olive oil to a food processor (or blender). Process until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together all remaining dry ingredients. (Using a wire whisk works best because as it blends the ingredients evenly it also incorporates air into the mix, which will lighten the batter a bit.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry. Stir just until evenly mixed. Do not over mix.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. The batter will be stiff. With your pixing spoon, spread it into an even layer.
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven). Test with a toothpick in several different spots. When it comes out clean, it is done.
  8. Cut into 9 even pieces. Serve warn or chilled.
Nutritional data
Calories:        169
Fat:               6.2g
Sat fat:          4.3g
Chol:           23.9g
Sodium:  114.5mg
Carbs:      25.4mg
Fiber:           2.6g
Protein:        4.6g
By replacing a large amount of the oil normally used in cornbread with actual corn, it increases the fiber content and drastically drops the fat levels (and therefore the calorie count.) The end result is even more flavorful than usual, as well as very moist with a good crust.
You can serve it with butter. If you want this for breakfast, top it with warm apple sauce, maple syrup or any nice fruit compote.
BBQ sauce
Serve 4 (2 tablespoons per serving)
This is a sweet and tart BBQ sauce, similar to something like KC Masterpiece or Sweet Baby Ray’s, but don’t expect it to taste the same. It won’t. But I think this is the best recipe I have ever come up with.
Using the apple jelly helps it get thick faster.
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) beer (avoid a very hoppy beer for this.)
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon apple jelly (optional, but I used it)
  1. In a non-stick skillet, add all ingredients over med-high heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Stay with this. You want it to boil off liquid but not burn. You will need to stir continuously.
  3. Boil off about 1/4 of the volume. It will get thick, but pourable (when warm.) This will take about 5 minutes.
  4. The larger the skillet the faster this will happen (more surface area to boil off the water.)

Nutritional data
Calories:         69
Fat:                0g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:           0mg
Sodium:     11mg
Carbs:       15.7g
Fiber:          0.4g
Protein:       0.4g

Question for today:
What is your preferred non-internet based source of recipes (magazine, specific cookbook or specific TV show.) 

Oatmeal Muffins

Oatmeal Muffins
Serves 12

1 cup regular (not instant, not steel-cut) oatmeal
1 cup skim milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

  1. Soak oatmeal in the milk for 1 hour in a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F
  3. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl.
  4. After the oatmeal is finished soaking, stir in applesauce and egg whites.
  5. Gently mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir only enough to combine evenly.
  6. Spray non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray.
  7. Divide batter between cups.
  8. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mix over muffins.
  9. Bake 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven). Muffins are finished baking when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       87
Fat:             0.6g
Sat fat:        0.1g
Chol:        0.4mg
Sodium:  83.8mg
Carbs:       16.5g
Fiber:          1.9g
Protein:       3.5g

This muffin is delicious as is, or can be modified as desired.

Alternatives and Options:
Replace applesauce with 1/2 cup mashed banana.
Replace applesauce with 1/2 cup pumpkin.
Add 1/2 cup chopped apples or pears.
Add 1/4 cup chopped nuts.
Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or other dried fruits.
Add 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, raspberries or blackberries.
Add additional spices to the mix (cinnamon, nutmeg and/or allspice would be good.)
If you aren’t afraid of higher calories, replace the applesauce with peanut butter.

Herb-Crusted Cod

Herb-Crusted Cod
Serve 3 (5-6 ounce portions)

1 pound Atlantic cod fillets
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1-2 tablespoons of your herbs of choice
1 egg
1/8 cup skim milk
1 tablespoons vegetable oil

  1. Thaw (if frozen) fillets. Blot with paper towel to dry surface.
  2. Mix panko and herbs in a shallow dish.
  3. Mix egg and milk in a shallow bowl.
  4. Pre-heat non-stick skillet (11-12″ works best)
  5. Dip fish fillets in egg wash.
  6. Lay each in herb-crumb mixture, flipping to coat both sides.
  7. Add oil to skillet. Gently lay fillets in skillet. 
  8. Pan fry until the edges begin to brown (3-4 minutes). 
  9. Carefully flip and finish cooking.
Nutritional data:
Calories:        235
Fat:               6.8g
Sat fat:          0.7g
Chol:      101.8mg
Sodium:  170.6mg
Carbs:           6.4g
Fiber:            0.3g
Protein:       34.6g
I used Penzey’s Greek Seasoning. You could also use dill, parsley, basil, oregano, or anything that you prefer.

In the picture above the cod was served with my Strawberry-Spinach Salad and Zucchini Pancakes.

Grilled Peach with Balsamic Reduction

Grilled Peach with Balsamic Reduction
Serves 2

1 peach
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup crushed pecans
Whipped topping or ice cream

  1. Preheat your grill on high for 5 minutes.
  2. In a small non-stick skillet over med-high heat, toast the pecans until they become fragrant (2-3 minutes.) Remove from heat.
  3. In the same skillet, add vinegar and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Let is reduce in volume by half. This will go quickly (1-3 minutes), stay by the stove. Turn the heat off.
  4. Cut your peach in half and remove the stone.
  5. Lay the peach, cut side down on the grill. Leave in place until grill marks form, about 2 minutes. (The sugars in the peach will start to get caramelize and you will smell the wonderful aroma.)
  6. Turn the heat down, and leave the peach in place another 2-3 minutes, until it gets warm.
  7. Serve the peach half on whipped topping or ice cream, topped with half the pecans and balsamic syrup.
  8. Omit whipped cream to make this vegan.
Note: The next time I make this, I will cut the peach into four or six wedges, and grill both cut sides.
Normally, I don’t like peaches (I usually find them to be cloyingly sweet), but this peach had such a different flavor from the grilling process and then topping it with the sweet-tart balsamic syrup made this a wonderful dessert.
For nutritional data, the only data of concern is the peach. The vinegar adds very little. If you eat it without whipped topping or ice cream, you only need to add the calories present in the peach.

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes
Serves 4 (2 pancakes)

1-2 medium zucchinis (approximately 1 pound) shredded
2 eggs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Preheat non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Spray with cooking spray.
  4. With clean hands, form batter into 8 balls (2-3 ounces each.)
  5. Place batter balls in skillet and press down with a spatula. Let them cook until the edges turn brown (2-3 minutes).
  6. Flip and finish cooking (another 2-3 minutes.)
  7. Serve warm with sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, apple sauce or butter and maple syrup.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       100
Fat:              2.9g
Sat fat:         0.8g
Chol:      105.8mg
Sodium:   85.1mg
Carbs:        12.5g
Fiber:           1.3g
Protein:        5.5g